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How to Succeed in Academic Writing

In the olden days when hand-written assignments were the norm, students with good handwriting earned more marks. Back then, instructors made it clear that good handwriting would increase the points you scored on a given paper. Today, hand-written tasks have gradually been replaced by typed assignments. Still, there are specific attributes instructors seek when they are marking academic assignments. Normally, the heads of college departments will dedicate a day or two to orientate new students. In such forums, students will be informed of key points that guarantee success in academic writing. Similarly, a lecturer will attach clear rubrics at the end of each assignment question. In this section, the student will be reminded of the main aspects that the marker will want to see in the final essay. A student is assured of passing an assignment is he/she satisfies the marker in adherence to the stated points. One of the things that help a student to succeed in any academic writing is precision. By this, it is meant that the final paper presented to the marker must fully address the task specified in the assignment. To ensure this, the student must read and comprehend the question before starting to write. Alternatively, he/she could occasionally revisit the question to check for any possible deviation.

Secondly, the paper should be broad enough to cover the subject that is provided. This is achieved when the student identifies major keys to the task. Closely related to the element of breadth is depth. Unless there are explicit instructions to “mention” or “list”, the student should always provide an in-depth analysis of a given research topic. In academic writing, depth is accomplished through an inclusion of background readings and relevant but recent resources.

A mistake commonly made by students when writing an academic paper is to reiterate the thoughts or opinions of other authors. Discussing a concept is different from conducting a literature review. In the former, which is what academic writing is about, it is vital to link the contentions of other authors with your own thoughts. This is where the notion of critical thinking comes in. The student must evaluate whether the background readings offer a logical position concerning the subject.

When addressing an academic paper, factors that boost critical thinking are relevance and precision of other people’s ideas. A precise, broad, deep, and critically thought-out paper guarantees high quality content, but this is not enough. The instructor will want to see clarity in the writing. Thus, you must take care to articulate all the concepts properly. Though quotations are helpful, it is detrimental to use too many of them, because this negates the impression of originality and creativity. Again, you have to organize your paper well using headings as appropriate. Avoid using technical words to alleviate ambiguity. Things such as spelling and grammar must also be checked.

Last, in-text citations together with a bibliography must be presented in the right format.

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Mar 20, 2014